Recipes from the Lab, General

The best kind of taxi? A Mambo Taxi

We obviously enjoy a good drink. But we also really enjoy good food. We have a doozy of a cocktail for you, but first, a little backstory.

Living in Texas, especially if you are a native, a decent portion of your diet includes Tex-Mex, Mexican, and other Latin-influenced cuisines. If you are from Dallas or have lived here for more than a minute year, you know that good Tex-Mex comes from a lot of different places (no, Taco Bell is not one of them). There are lots of small taquerias and independent restaurants that make excellent food, but when you want to go to a nicer "sit-down" place, that is not too pricey, with fantastic food, we can count those place on only one hand.

This isn't a staged photo, their food really looks like this! - Image credit Mi Cocina

This isn't a staged photo, their food really looks like this! - Image credit Mi Cocina

In particular, one of our go-to's is Mi Cocina.  If you are not lucky enough to live in the Dallas area or have a Mi Cocina nearby, you are missing out (currently, Mi Cocina is in 11 Texas cities, and there are two lucky cities outside of Texas who get to partake too).

When visiting a Mi Cocina, you can easily tell who is a (pardon the pun) seasoned veteran and who is just a casual diner or perhaps an 'out-of-towner' by their beverage of choice. Sure, you will see people drinking beer, traditional margaritas, and other cocktails. However, the regulars usually go for only one drink. The Mambo Taxi.

There are good and bad things that come with a Mambo Taxi (or just "Mambo" for short, as we call it). The good is well, it's really good (possibly even too good at times). The bad, though, is that in order to have a Mambo, you have to go to Mi Cocina, which is not always convenient or even possible (2 a.m. Mambo anyone?). Well, for those who wish that they had a Mi Cocina nearby or those who want a Mambo in the comfort of their own home at 2 a.m, we're here to save the day (or night).  

Behold, the Mambo Taxi recipe (queue angelic choir singing).

This one comes from The Whiskey Ice Co. Kitchen - The dragon fruit garnish does not come with the standard Mambo, but hey, it works.

This one comes from The Whiskey Ice Co. Kitchen - The dragon fruit garnish does not come with the standard Mambo, but hey, it works.

The Mambo Taxi is unique, but not because it is complicated, it's actually not too difficult to make (once we figured it out). The Mambo is unique because it does something special...it makes us actually like a frozen margarita. This is not a typical fluorescent green margarita-a-la-slushy-machine served in a Spring Break-style "yard glass".  This is a well-crafted cocktail that happens to be frozen.

Ok, ok, ok...here's the recipe.  It is in two parts, the actual margarita, and the sangria "splash" that enters the glass before the margarita. This recipe may seem difficult at first, but it is really all about preparation. You can expect about 20-ish minutes of prep (with the "chill time" see below), and about 2 minutes of drink assembly.

Arriba!!

Tools:

Ingredients:

This recipe makes two Mambos, but we converted everything to cups too because you can make extra to keep on-the-ready (it's great to make a bottle of it and store it in the fridge, then add it to ice in the blender as needed), which is nice in case you want to make more (and you will) or if you are having a party. There will be Sangria left over (enough for about 8 to 10 Mambos, so just refrigerate it until you make more Mambos). Another key point to note is that Mambo Taxis are generally potent cocktails, so we have an optional ingredient listed below in case you want "Mi Cocina-strength" or "regular-strength", both versions taste exactly the same, though.

Sangria Portion:

  • 4 oz (or ½ cup) Seven Daughters Cabernet (Seven Daughters is what Mi Cocina uses, but if you cannot find it, then Seven Daughters Rich Red Blend or any medium-body cabernet will work)
  • 2 oz (or ¼ cup) freshly squeezed orange juice (as in you squeezed it - not from a bottle or a carton) - we also like tangerines for this
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp agave nectar

Margarita Base:

  • 4 oz (or ½ cup) 100% Pure Agave Tequila (this time we chose Casamigos Blanco for its blue agave-forward flavor, but you can also use something like El Jimador or Sauza)
  • 2 oz (or ¼ cup) Tripple Sec or other clear Orange-flavored liqueur (we use Cointreau)
  • 2 oz (or ¼ cup) fresh lime juice
  • 1½ tbsp  agave nectar
  • A healthy pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt (what's a "healthy pinch"? A 'regular pinch' is two-fingers - thumb and index finger, and a healthy pinch is a three-finger pinch - thumb, index finger and middle finger pinching a larger amount of salt a little less than ¼ tsp.)
  • Lots of ice (about 1½ cups per drink)
  • Optional if you want "Mi Cocina-strength" Mambos:  ½ oz Everclear 190 proof grain alcohol (again, purely optional, and won't change the taste if omitted)
A three-finger pinch of salt (a.k.a. "a healthy pinch").

A three-finger pinch of salt (a.k.a. "a healthy pinch").

Important note about the optional Everclear: Everclear is SERIOUS booze - 190 proof is 95% alcohol by volume (ABV). To put this into perspective, the standard proof for things like Vodka is 80 proof - or 40% ABV (yep, Everclear is over twice a strong -- so you use less than half as much Everclear as you would a standard-proofed alcohol. Everlcear is so strong that the 190 proof is not even sold in some states, instead, a 151 proof version is sold. So be careful and always measure.

If you can only locate the 151 Proof Everclear, use ¾ oz instead of the ½ oz. Also, do not try to use 151 Rum, it is not the same. If you can't find Everclear, you can always substitute 1 ounce of 100 Proof Vodka, or skip the extra booze, since the taste will not be affected. It's only used to slightly bump up the booziness, without changing the taste.

Assembling the Drinks:

Step 1: Create the sangria by combining all of the sangria ingredients in a shaker or a jar with a lid and give it a few good shakes to get the agave nectar dissolved, and then place in the freezer while you work on the rest. Just long enough to get cold, but not frozen.

Step 2: Now, except for the ice, combine all of the other margarita ingredients together in the blender (including the salt) and zap it a couple of times with the "pulse" blend option to combine - and remember that the Everclear is optional and you won't taste it if you skip it.

Step 3: To keep your frozen margarita frozen longer, place the blender (without the ice) into the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes while you clean up the huge mess you made so it can get cold.

Step 4: If you have not already, remove the sangria from the freezer (it should still be liquid, or at most mildly slushy) and add 1 to 2 tbsps. into the bottom of each double old fashioned glass.

Step 5: Add approximately 2 cups of ice to the blender and blend the margarita mixture until the ice is completely blended (we're looking for almost a Slurpee thickness like our photo above, so add more ice as required.

Lastly, load up both glasses with the frozen margarita mixture, on top of the sangria.  We like to stir it with a straw to mix the sangria into the margarita, but go with what you know.

Enjoy responsibly people. Cheers!